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Posts posted by ejano

  1. I watched a NatGeo program on Sunday evening about service dog breeding and training. I think much of the program was filmed in Britain. One of the tests done early on was to observe the dog to see which front paw it moved when it started to walk, suggesting that dogs are strongly left or right pawed. It was explained that a right pawed dog was the better choice for a service dog because they are thought to be more emotionally stable and more of a "people dog". It was added that dogs whose hair goes in counter-clockwise swirls are also chosen above dogs whose hair goes clockwise (I think I have this right but it might be the other way).


    So....first thing I did was check my three. All are strongly left pawed. All of my dogs are very stable in regard to noise, motion. Lady likes men, but not women. Brodie loves everybody - I take him into my mother's assisted living complex and he visits with men, women, old, young (staff), including stroke patients and the learning disabled residents. He's been to nursing homes as well and doesn't react to plastic gloves, those floaty dr gowns, wheel chairs, walkers, IVs and carts rattling down the hall. To him it is all part of the scenery. He brings a great deal of comfort to people. A man who rarely talks or shows emotion whistles and smiles when he sees Brodie and Brodie runs to him.


    Robin likes certain people really well and tolerates others. He shows no preference for men or women but rather focuses on those who seem to really like him. He doesn't react well to people who are learning disabled. He is also the dog that really, really, *really* likes sheep. Brodie likes sheep too but he has his own off switch; he'll look then walk away. Robin needs to be called off, repeatedly until he is out of sight of them and headed somewhere interesting - like the creek.


    (Brodie and Robin are littermates by the way)


    I thought I might train Robin in some assistance skills during his first year when I was quite ill. I had specific things in mind - to be able to carry a pack, to pick up things (laundry and whatever else I dropped.), to open handicapped doors, and to help me balance by walking very close to my left side, the direction I tended to tilt. I took him everywhere that I thought I might want to go when he was a pup - even the library, which is one of four buildings in my town that actually has an elevator. He did well with going out, was great with walking once he learned to heel (that was a battle!), and took to a pack with grace. I decided to not risk socks, etc. when he was young because he was a chewer of some regard. I did teach him and Brodie to pick up their toys and put them in a basket; very handy when it comes time to mow the lawn.


    I thought that Rally might be "my thing" with Robin. It moved at a slow enough pace that I felt I could do it. I realized partway through the first class that he wasn't loving it at all. He would do the moves for me quite well but he was only doing it to please me - his heart wasn't in it. We tried agility. I wasn't loving that too much - too expensive to do, I thought. All that equipment to buy or build.


    One day I was at a friend's who had a fenced ring, practicing my rally moves. She and a friend were doing a lesson with their Border Collies. Robin came alive; really alive. I saw for the first time how focused and happy he was when he was doing something that he was bred for. Looking at him, I remembered the Border Collies of my childhood and how they effortlessly and beautifully they worked and took such joy in what they did. I sat down with my dog and made him a promise - that we would do that.

    So we did. Robin still helps me with things. We continue to work on doors, going out in crowds and visiting different stores. He walks easily on a leash when I push the cart. Sometimes I let him pull the cart. He's not a mouthy dog, except for his toys - having been corrected more than once for chewing as a pup. (I think that will be Brodie's job. He's actually much more trick oriented and quicker to learn than Robin.) I've recently realized that Robin orders my life. He has recently decided that 6 AM is a good time to be rising and when he nudges me I know that it is five minutes to the hour. He's also woken me at night when I've been thrashing about in a nightmare. 10 PM is bedtime. He shows marked concern when I stay up late grading papers. While he's flexible on his feeding time, about 3 PM (but only on weekends) he starts in talking about "going to the farm" because that is when we feed on the weekends.


    The other two dogs do not exhibit these clock watching skills. Scotty, the dog I lost, did to the 9th degree. Dinner was served at the same time every night and when it was time to go out, he sat in front of the television until someone moved.


    So, my dogs are not service dogs by definition but they do preform jobs and could learn more. The thing is, it isn't what makes Robin and Brodie the happiest. They do what we ask and as the bond has grown, offered some behaviors because they love us. What they love to do, is sheep, cows, chickens...


    I think a Border Collie could be trained to do just about anything - but you really have to ask yourself. Is the dog's heart really in it? Though you can control some variables, a single pup from even the best bred litter is a crap shoot regardless of how it is raised. You might want the experience of breeding/raising your own pups, which many people do. I would have loved to have a pup by Robin or out of Ladybug - but what would have happen to the other five or six in the litter? You have to ask yourself - is it for you - or them? Will the animal - be it a dog, a horse, or a frog - , be fulfilled in what you want it to do? What will you do if it washes out? We don't have many choices in life, but we do have the choice about what kinds of animals we bring into our lives, what we do with them, and how we treat them. What will you do if the animal washes out of its expected work? I think it is fair to categorize me as a pet owner. Any animal that I own means a commitment for the natural life of that animal. With nine sheep, 3 dogs, and a cat, I'm pretty well booked up for the next 10 years or so. I won't be bringing so much as a goldfish into this house - and I have to say that when you go from two dogs to three, it's a whole 'nother country. If you are serious about being fair to the animal you want for a service dog, get one that has a better than average chance of being able to do the job you want. Get a Border Collie to work sheep.


    I guess this is my swan song on this board....not that folks will really miss me but I'm going to gain back an hour or two a week that I spend reading these bickering threads....there's just something fascinating about a train wreck but I think I can do without it.

  2. Four years ago I thought I might want a few Shetlands because I thought they were cute. Somehow I ended up with 4 big sheep - Clun Forest Tunis X and two very cute Shetlands. We added two Shetlands last year and one Tunis ewe lamb this year. Nine sheep seem to be about at the tipping point. I think if we had even one more, "fun" would become "work." It has been a good experience, though more expensive than I thought it would be initially. We do not breed but I do have the fleeces of the Tunis X Clun made into yarn and this year, for the first time was able to sell all of my product to a local yarn store where it is being well received by customers. Last year I was able to consign about half of it. And, honestly - how much does golf cost a year? I could be doing something that had no return on investment.


    I have learned to spin and play with the Shetland fleeces, which I send out to be processed into roving. This year I have also sold some roving. I have met my initial goal of paying for processing of all that wool with the sale of the yarn (keeping the Shetland for myself) and now need to balance out profits/expenses. I've bought just about everything I need to operate save for two small investments; those being a heated hose to draw water from the well in the winter and a second modulator for the electronet fencing so I can have one section on the solar charger and one up by the barn, plugged in. I've learned to give my own shot, administer deworming and to trim hooves. Shearing is best done by a professional. It seemed to me that many expenses are associated with poor condition or lambing. I feed them way too well but it keeps them healthy and again, we don't breed so knock on wood, no big health issues.


    Some of you may recall that when I started out on these boards with my Red Dog, then a Red Pup, I posted a picture of him, saying proudly that he'd been chosen as "Puppy of the Month" on a website devoted to pet dogs, most of them pocket-sized. It was a cute photo and he was definitely a candy-coated dog. Among the comments, someone said, " Well, we know where this is going to end up." Actually, no-one knew where I was going to end up, especially me. I was quite ill at the time, dangerously so and the thing that got me up and kept me going was thinking about what I could do with my puppy if I could only get well. We've gone places I didn't dare imagine back then - not as far as I would like in terms of training or trialing, but we've done our best to become a team and the sheep are the best thing that we (that is my husband and I) to help us focus on things besides doctors appointments.

    We still have a great time with them. They are tame enough to have their own personalities but in mixing them up and not working them too often, I get a chance for different training opportunities. We enjoy watching their interactions with each other and the hierarchy they've established. I see two of the big ones that any sensible person would have culled for their attitudes but in a flock this small, they can be managed and their wool is wonderful. They have a healthy respect for the dogs, which is an important factor in handling them.


    Four years later, I can call Robin a "started" dog. He is almost too dedicated to his task in that he simply cannot stay away from the sheep when he is at the farm. He might do a lap in the field, then head right back to the gate again. He will work until he drops. He's got his sides (as do I!) , an outrun, lift and fetch. He still goes hell-bent for leather, so we're working on taking time. And who knows where we'll end up?


    The best thing about the sheep is being able to interact with them and the dog. I was at a lesson last week, watching the trainer do some work with Robin. He fell into line immediately with her and I thought - how beautiful and purposeful the communication between them. It truly is what these dogs were made for and it is a rare privilege to be a part of it.

  3. I've noticed a lot of folks reference "airplane ears" Are these airplanes?




    Just a week or two ago Sammy had one ear prick (see below) but now they've morphed to something else. This is fun :)



    Adorable! Robin's ears did this at about the same age. I was positive he was going to be prick-eared at that point but he is are always sideways now.

  4. It depends a great deal on the dog's prey drive, I think. I had one who tolerated kittens to the point where my little orphan Tiger Lily would curl up in his tail and they'd both take a snooze. As an adult cat, Tiger Lily teased the pups when they came but as they grew she started to recognize them as potential pals. Imagine my Robin's surprise when she tried curling up in his tail while he was sleeping! He didn't hurt her but he about hit the ceiling in surprise. Brodie has been pretty tolerant as well. I think the boys would have left Tiger Lily completely alone if she had not taunted them into chasing her when they were pups. She'd smack them then take off across the yard for one of the fence posts, scramble up and laugh at them jumping about her. She stopped doing it when she realized they were no longer fat little puppies and could outrun her. Now she is very careful to not trigger a chase response when she slides by them. She and Robin occasionally snooze near each other but not on top of each other.


    Ladybug had obviously been taught to not chase cats before we got her. Now at 14, she sometimes forgets and starts to stalk Tiger Lily but she never harms her, though I get the feeling she would have been a devil with cats if not for her training as she is a grizzly bear when it comes to small - and not so small furry critters such as squirrels and bunnies. In her salad days she even caught an adult turkey by snapping its legs when it rose up in front of her to try to fly away. She shook the daylights out of a baby woodchuck earlier this year and yesterday she tried digging her way through the car floor board yesterday when she saw another woodchuck by the roadside. If only I dared let her have a real go at them I might have a garden! We've had BCs who would "stalk the wild woodchuck" but they can really hurt a dog and Ladybug is an old girl now, though she's in pretty good shape.

  5. Lamb Chops 1, or maybe 2 or 3 - Robin Zero.




    When Robin goes into his head, Lamb Chops attempts to head butt or catch him in the side. He's made some hard contact a couple of times, the latest this morning. Robin's method of dealing with this is to run around behind him and boost him into the right direction by startling him and Lamb Chops moves when Robin comes up from behind but sometimes I don't want him to do that. Lamb Chops darn near flattened me the other day and it would be really helpful if the dog could get between me and Lamb Chops and really teach him a lesson about playing games with people before he ends up mutton. It has to be Robin's methods because Lamb Chops doesn't play these games with Brodie who does have a "bite". He goes into him with his jaws snapping like an alligator (but no contact). I've never heard Robin do that. He's given a warning growl or two when an inquisitive lamb has come up to him but otherwise, he's all push. They see him coming and they move except for Lamb Chops who tries to challenge him.


    How do I put a controlled bite into this dog? Should I even try? He's not a mouthy dog - he doesn't carry things, he doesn't "take" anything except food.

  6. Only to be expected that one of the most popular dogs will have one if the highest incidents of bites.


    I'm not sure that the show v working types division holds water. All my problems with labs bar one have been with working types since they are by far the majority where I live. The few show types tend to be rather amiable but inert masses of blubber.

    I was referring to the military service dogs. It is heartbreaking to see what they and their handlers go through - then to be separated at the end of a tour - or worse, when one is injured.


    Back then, the most popular dog in our area were farm collies and hound dogs (beagles, hunting hounds). Times have sure changed.

  7. These answers make me remember someone who posted (here, perhaps) how she had taught her Border Collie to fetch her things out of the fridge. One day, sleeping in (sick, maybe?), she awoke to find her bed full of the contents of her fridge. Her dog had brought everything in an effort to entice her to get up and spend some time with him.


    Smart. Fast-learning. Clever.

    :) :) :)



    Ladybug brings Ken toys when he's snoozing - thinking maybe he'll play with *this* one.


    I wish I knew more about Ladybug. She wasn't our first BC but she is the only one for whom we have no history. She was so well trained - it took us years to ruin her :) and still the only thing approaching misbehavior that she does is point her nose at the cat now and then. I'm still learning new things avout her - when I try something new with the boys, she says "Oh, I know that.."


    I did try to teach them how to fetch shoes and she got this wary look on her face. "We never touch shoes, dear..." Somewhere along the line - as a puppy perhaps, she must have been a chewer.


    As far as what I should have known - more about training a herding dog. We could have come much further, much faster if I'd studied the whole thing more seriously before we started. Thankfully, Border Collies have a forgiving heart. I also would have done more math (never my forte) and realized I could have taken a heck of a lot of lessons, and traveled to trials for what I've spent on my spoiled sheep. But then, what would Ken and I do with all that spare time :)



    In the years my mother worked for the state health department, the largest numbers of reported dog bites involved labs. That said, it could be possible to separate the working Labs from the every day ones you meet on the street. They really are victims of bad breeding and bad handling.




  9. This is the shampoo I used - though I paid 2x as much at the local pet store -- on the other hand, they were open when I needed it.


    More recently, I also switched out their food to Blue though Brodie refused to eat it and is on a food called Source from Tractor Supply. I will probably switch them all to it once the Blue bag is gone as anything that keeps Brodie happy foodwise, makes the rest of us happy. What is it about mosquoitos and people eating certain foods? Perhaps fleas are the same way :).



    ETA - if nothing else is working, perhaps some allergy meds i.e. benedril to stop the itching? I had to resort to this to get them calmed down after the Advantix episode because they just wouldn't stop itching. Kinda annoyingly funny, really because Brodie sleeps under the bed. Scratch, thump all night long. After I got the itch stopped, I used the shampoo to hopefully keep fleas/ticks away for the month until I could dose them again and it worked out pretty well.

  10. Interesting question - I wouldn't disbelieve that subpopulations of fleas, like other critters can become localized in the same way that they can become resistant to a pesticide but I have no idea of what the literature would say...


    The breeder from whom we got the boys swears that only Advantix works - and she lives only 10 miles from me. It drove my boys absolutely wild to the point where they were rolling on the hard kitchen floor to get it off their backs - not even waiting to go outside on the grass, or better yet, the living room carpet. Ladybug was unaffected (she got treated from the same dose pack) by the Advantix and got no fleas either...


    Maybe it's the dog?

  11. I suspect that if a working dog tends toward a heavier coat, how heavy the undercoat actually gets depends on the weather - I just spent a productive hour combing out the downy undercoat from my Red Dog and now he is nearly as flat-coated as Brodie. The poor BC I've been watching along the road to the farm (yes, she's still there in spite of my best efforts) who is out in every kind of weather has a coat that would rival that of any show dog. In the winter, Robin can tolerate much more cold than Brodie who is flat coated (but not slick).


    The photo that Geonni posted is quite likely a show dog - the short square muzzle is a give away - but the generalization that a heavy coated dog can't exist in the working world is quite likely not borne out.

  12. attachicon.gifRough Coat.jpg

    ETA: I don't think I've ever seen a working Border Collie with a coat like the (Obviously conformation-type) one in the 1st picture. Too much hair!

    Until I started looking at photos on these boards, I had never seen a smooth coat - and all the BCs I've known throughout my life were hard working dogs with heavy coats. My Robin comes close to that heavy of a coat in the winter - when the photo you posted was obviously taken.


    Here is one of Robin in summer (gazing at his sheep). The sheep can assure you he is not a "barbie" collie



    (I took the photo out because it is linking directly to my photobucket account - something I can't quite fathom). The same photo is on my signature line.

  13. Thanks - we'll start to work again. I've another nagging problem to deal with as well. When he gets the entire flock, he's putting them up against a fence corner and keeping them there with his strong eye. He's not relaxed enough to lie down and get stuck; he waits on his feet just in case one or more of them pops loose so I am easily able to call him off and redirect him in a flank between the sheep and the fence, which gets him out of the spot, but he shouldn't be creating the problem in the first place - though I am grateful that he can hold them because Lamb Chops (a whether) has turned a bit nasty now and again.


    I suspect that both issues can be helped by slowing Robin down to a crawl. I've avoided this because he's a bit sticky now and again and now I see its past time to introduce "take time".


    I will say one thing - I would have thought my flock would have been dogged out by now, but every time I work the dogs, one or more of them pulls a new trick out of their proverbial hats. I guess that's a good thing. Keeps the dogs and me on our toes :)



  14. I'm thinking nobody here has paid attention to the fact that I said I would never personally buy from anyone but a stock dog breeder.


    So how exactly am I responsible for ruining the breed?


    I'm only advocating tolerance. Keep your stock dogs in stock dog lines and let other people have their sport lines and conformation lines. They are just as convinced that they are right as you folks are.


    When you buy a dog out of working lines you get a whole dog - one with stock sense and the ability to do sports. Buying a dog not bred for work means that you are missing half the dog. If you love the breed and apparently prefer dogs from working lines, why condone diluting it? The argument has no basis in reason.

  15. This is a fruitful conversation for me. Robin is a very strong eyed dog but I've seen him, in tousles with one particular sheep, turn his head away and sometimes even circle around to come at the sheep from a different angle - I won't call it a full out retreat but I did consider it a fault as I thought the sheep deserved a nip on the nose. Brodie would have done that (and has) and he's a much looser eyed dog. Now I understand why Robin does it. I still want him to go at the sheep - but maybe he does know best as the sheep does fall in line for him when he does this. Thanks for the food for thought.

  16. We have nine sheep now, four shetlands and five Tunis cross - all independent thinkers.


    We've extended our pasture out onto the hillside using Electronet fencing. (Just as an aside, putting up the electronet and the solar charger had to be the easiest thing we've done since we 've gotten sheep. Zip, zip and it's done.) The sheep have an entire hillside of grass and absolutely refuse to go in there because each time they do some darn fool puts her nose on the fence and they all go skittering back to the barn at full speed


    I'm using Robin to push the sheep into the new grazing area, shutting the gate and leaving them there for short periods of time to get them used to the place. This is a big step for us. Robin is working at about 400 yards out, sometimes just out of sight, though I can see the bigger sheep as they come through a dip in the pasture so I know what he's doing. He's having some difficulty keeping the entire packet together. He usually brings me 7, then willingly goes back for the two escapees. Today, he brought six. I sent him back and he brought just one as Snowdrop had apparently evolved and went to hide in the barn, taking one of the little ones with her.


    I sent him back again but he didn't find them. He didn't realize they'd gone in the barn so he was very reluctant to leave the packet he did have to look for something he couldn't see. He kept turning back to the ones behind me perhaps thinking he ought to bring those to me and he'd done such a good job so far I didn't want to keep correcting him for doing something wrong when I couldn't explain what to do right, so we called it a day.


    Obviously, if I close the barn doors, the sheep will stay in his view and the immediate problem will solve itself. But on a larger scale, I want him to trust me to send him out to look for sheep he can't see. How do I help him find the other sheep when they are out of sight?

  17. Sam-


    Based on the replys thus far I don't think these woman have any children, but their dogs are their "children".

    I think you've already been kicked around about this one, but really????


    I like my dogs better than I like 99% of the people I meet. Still, I would not ever keep a dog that I couldn't trust around my child or his friends when he was growing up. We're older now, rarely do little ones come to our home and when they do, they don't get to play with our dogs, especially the one we got through rescue because she nipped a toddler that was pulling her hair.


    It's a hard choice for you to make but it sounds like it just isn't going to work at home.


    This might help - We are so grateful for the person who gave up Ladybug - not they way they did it mind, stuffing her in a shelter the day before Christmas. But because they gave her up , we have had 9 wonderful years with a delightful girl who filled our empty hearts (we had lost two dogs and cat the year before.) She is our best girl ever. So if you know that your dog will find a good, comfortable home, with someone who loves him as much as you do, that might help to make it easier.



  18. I have went back an read may different topics. There have been references to the candy coated dogs. Which I'm assuming is the blue and lilacs. Not to upset anyone but when I see a merle I automatically think of an Assuie. I had to be different and didn't want the traditional black, so I got red. In reading something ( sorry don't remember ) the old herders only wanted the black, and most of the herding dogs you see are black/white. Why is that? Can't any other color be just as good? Just wondering. Trying get more education.

    Merles and reds are also considered "candy coated" if they are bred for their color first. If your primary criteria for choosing a pup is for color then you may be overlooking more important factors, including health, personality, and aptitude for what you want the dog to do. It's what is inside the dog that counts first - the breeding and the dog's personality and aptitude. I don't think physical appearance is irrelevent - you have to like the dog after all, and the way it looks is part of the package. It just isn't the whole package.


    We chose a red tri puppy from a litter out of working stock, health-checked parents who were not bred for color. He was a large boned male with a heavier coat and very pushy even as a tiny pup - all things I liked about him. I wasn't all that attracted to his red coat color at first - especially those gold eyebrows! - but it was clear that he was meant to be mine and now I can't imagine life without my Red Dog because of what is inside him. He has become everything I had hoped for. He has a solid, even temper and a strong work ethic, a powerful but biddable personality and he has become a larger boned dog with a heavier coat. Because of his size, he's not the speediest dog in the pack but he's fast enough and he'll work all day. We are becoming real partners.


    So the answer, in hindsight, is to decide what you want out of the dog, find a good breeder, then if there is more than one pup that meets your needs, pick the one you like the best.

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